What do Tyco, J. Crew and Barnes and Noble have in common? They all belong to the same merchant association that organized last night’s College Night.
New Haven’s downtown counts separate merchant associations for the Audubon, Chapel Street and Broadway districts, University Properties Director of Marketing Shana Schneider said. She said the associations are set up to promote the interests of the local merchants and to reach out to new potential customers.
“The Broadway Merchants Association want to make sure that everyone feels welcome and so they created this event, and it involved all the universities,” Schneider said.
Mike Iannuzzi, the owner of Tyco and a member of the association, lauded its ability to unite local businesses. He said that while the association plays no role in the leasing of property to new businesses, it allows existing companies to speak under one voice on issues of common interest such as security, parking and the general marketability of the neighborhood.
“Once everyone is here, we are all concerned about the same issues,” Iannuzzi said. “With that we work as a group [and] voice our concerns under one voice.”
Krista Camputaro, the owner of Sogno and the president of the Audubon Merchant Association, which was founded in October 2004 and currently has 14 members, said that in addition to promoting local businesses, her group seeks to engage the community through various cultural and family-oriented events. Although the three merchant associations are separate, Iannuzzi said they often work together on issues of common interest, and he thinks the three will merge together sometime in the near future.
“Even though we all have the same concerns, we are not all connected,” he said. “[A combined association] has not happened, but I see it happening.”
But Camputaro said she would prefer to maintain the current merchant associations based on areas rather than create a unified group. She said different neighborhoods of the city cater to separate clienteles, and therefore are concerned by predominantly different issues.
“We do collaborate with each other on many things, but the particular neighborhoods and areas are very different,” Camputaro said. “Audubon is very family-oriented, and does not have much night-life, [whereas] Chapel Street has more of a nightlife emphasis.”
While University Properties does have a representative present at the meetings of each of the merchant associations, Schneider said the University’s involvement is small, and mainly logistical in the organization of the events.